High Tech Workout Gear: The Good, The Bad and The Weird:
If you’re a fitness fanatic with a secret geek alter ego, then check out the latest biometric performance-tracking clothes, wearables and sportswear developments on Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com. Indiegogo is easier to navigate than Kickstarter, but both sites have some exciting new gear that’s creating buzz in the sports industry.
Electrical Muscle Stimulating Training In Clothing With A Mind Of Its Own
The latest innovation from ANTELOPE is what they tout as their “muscle-activating smartsuit” – a sportswear line made of compression fabrics with integrated wiring and electrodes. Placed over the muscles, the ANTELOPE Booster activates muscle contraction with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and is controlled by an app on your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. The app evaluates muscle activity and the booster settings (frequency, intensity levels, training session length, speed, intervals, etc.) to help potentiate muscle contractions, which enhance sports performance. For example, they have documented an increase in performance up to 30% in 4 weeks, jumping ability up to 20%, muscle volume up to 10%. And, most impressively, back pain is reduced 90% of all cases.
A Second Skin
When you feel like your underwear needs a little glam, Wengash Silver has you covered. Made from polyester threads coated in 100% pure silver, the underwear relies on tried and true antimicrobial properties of silver for odor control. In group sports activities, this is a big plus. The natural properties of silver also account for a number of other benefits:
- Anti-radiation: Silver can block the radiation of cell phones, Wi-Fi signals, microwaves, etc. The company claims their product helps protect reproductive cells in the ovaries and testes from harmful radiation and may increase fertility.
- Thermal conductivity: Silver has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. It disperses body heat to the environment and keeps you cool.
- Anti-static: Silver has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals. Discharging static may be useful in dry climates where static electricity buildup is annoying.
Another popular trend is compression clothing. Theoretically, skintight sportswear is supposed to reduce exercise-induced edema and delayed onset muscle soreness by stimulating lymphatic outflow and transporting extracellular fluid from the muscles back into the circulation. However current research does not support this. In fact, decreased blood flow has been observed in the muscle tissue in the compressed quadriceps muscle during recovery from high intensity exercise. That being said, compression stockings and sleeves (at 34 mm hg) are often prescribed by physicians to support injured tissues or alleviate painful swelling in people with venous or lymphatic disorders. As a performance-enhancing product for healthy people, compression fabric is most likely irrelevant.
Heart-warming Technology For Cold Weather Workouts
Exercising in cold weather while wearing a bunch of layers like an onion may become a thing of the past. Inspired by the NASA space suit and space shuttle insulation material, aerogel, OROS developed Aerogel outerwear: a line of thin performance apparel that keeps you warm. Lightweight aerogel material can trap space dust on space shuttles, de-ice aircrafts, and insulate the coldest oil pipelines in the world. 150 brick-sized pieces of aerogel weigh as much as a single gallon of water.
Footwear with Feedback
IOFIT’s Smart Balance shoes contain Bluetooth-sensored, pressure sensitive insoles that are battery powered and can be wirelessly recharged. These pressure-sensitive smartshoes generate information on effort, posture and balance live in an app. The company is developing two types of shoes: one pair of lightweight, comfortable shoes for general fitness training and one for golfing. There are even coaching modes, a video mode to examine posture, and a way to share the data with a personal trainer.
Cut The Cord On Your Soccer Cleats
Adidas ACE 16+ lace-less soccer cleats are being released as the new revolution in soccer gear. Removing the laces creates a larger surface area on the top of the shoe, which gives the “cleanest, most powerful and accurate possible strike area.” The ACE 16+ is slipped on like a bootie and fits like a sock with a redesigned “sprint frame outsole” for ultimate traction without giving up freedom of motion.
Don’t Hold Your Breath With Hypoxic Training
A number of MMA fighters swear by intermittent hypoxia training with elevation / altitude training masks. Hypoxic training is used by athletes who need to compete at high altitude (e.g.: the Olympics in Denver) or by those who want to perform like people who live at high altitude (Nepalese Sherpas). The advantage to high altitude training is that the body acclimatizes over time to the lower levels of atmospheric oxygen by generating more oxygen-carrying red blood cells. During exertion, more RBCs with oxygen translate to better aerobic performance by the muscles.
However, elevation training masks do not increase oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood. Instead, research has shown the main physiological effect is reduction of hyperventilation and creating higher CO2 levels in the alveoli during and after training. Increased CO2 levels in the functioning parts of the lungs relaxes and dilates smooth muscles of airways so that more air can enter the lungs with each breath. Essentially, the wearer feels like they can breathe more deeply when they take the mask off because their airways are dilated. It’s temporary. Another problem with masks is that people aren’t wearing them long enough to make any difference.
Are Sensitive Smart Textiles The Future of Performance Training
The Lumo Run’s clip-on 9-axis sensor and Lumo Run garments with embedded sensor technology capture accurate running biomechanics through core body movements such as cadence, bounce/vertical oscillation, breaking, stride length, pelvic rotation, and ground contact time. Auditory coaching through headphones gives real-time feedback on form for immediate improvement. Post-run insight on running form is shown through lab-grade biometrics in the Lumo Run app. The sensor is waterproof, machine washable, and lasts up to one month on a single charge.
Hexoskin Smartshirt is the world’s first biometric smart shirt that’s sensor-embedded to monitor and record your heart rate, breathing, and movement whether you’re awake or asleep. It provides valuable insights on intensity and recovery, calories burned, fatigue level, and sleep quality. Connected to your favorite Bluetooth Smart compatible apps and devices, Hexoskin supports the BLE HR profile and is compatible with your favorite fitness tracking apps including Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic, Endomondo, and MapMyRun. All data is stored securely, allowing you to see how your physical fitness evolves over time.
Athos, an American startup developing “intelligent performance apparel,” introduced their first collection of smart workout clothing. To analyze muscle activity, effort, and heart and breathing rates in real-time, Athos uses EMG (electromyography) technology, 16 embedded sensors without wires, an accelerometer and magnetometer. The high-tech garments seamlessly incorporate bio signal monitoring into a “warp knit” to provide stability during training while reducing fatigue and soreness. The fabric also wicks sweat to keep the body cool and dry, and incorporates UPF 50 treatment to protect skin from UV rays.